Friday, 31 July 2009

Overnight Brandon Blanking Bonanza

Thursday 30th July, Brandon after work for an overnight. Thankfully dry.

With my family holiday abroad looming, my piscatorial pursuits have reached fever pitch this week with the ever-present objective of beating my buddy in this fishing competition. To this end I returned to Brandon to do a night after a Carp. I was in work the next day so this was a proper hardcore carper's session, arriving on the bank at six and 'pulling off' (ooh missus) at eight the following morning. Don't worry I showered at work.


To cut a long story short I blanked.

I saw four Tench roll which is more than I've seen in the last eight trips but none were over my baited spots.

I fished small hookbaits and rigs until dark arrived then stepped up to Carp rigs for the night. Nada on either.

Apart from four single bleeps there was nothing to disturb a pretty good night's sleep. I dreamt of catching massive Bream - a sure sign I'm losing it.

I'm rapidly losing interest in Brandon and have decided to devote what's left of August when I get back from holiday to things entirely more rewarding; look out for my Bonsai tree gardening blog.


When Two Six Pound Bream Just Don't Cut It

Tuesday 7th July, Coombe Pool after work. Strong Westerly with rain at times. 'On me bike!'

I've suffered so many blanks at the hands of Brandon recently I thought I'd try somewhere different. To keep things interesting I thought I'd give Coombe pool a go for Bream and Zander. Interesting inasmuch as I haven't fished at Coombe since I was sixteen years old (21 years ago). Back then, I firmly vowed never to fish there again after it had almost completely sucked the angling life out of me one summer holiday.

Coombe is only five minutes down the road from my house and I spent so much time there not catching as a kid it was strange but quite exciting to return.

Coombe is famed for it's Zander and Bream, both of which I need (in competition terms). Unsure if the car park were locked up at dusk I got on my bike and cycled down after work. An additional benefit of a bike is that the woods section is within reach. Without a bike it's a twenty minute walk from the car park.

Taking a first look at the lake and as the midges splattered my teeth as I rode along I could see there was a lot of weed about. Loads in fact. It was practically unfishable up until the overflow. Moving into the woods it began to clear.

I spoke briefly to a guy fishing the woods who had been there since eleven in the morning, he reported one Bream for his efforts. In my mind, 'That's Coombe alright!' bounced around the walls of my brain. He was fishing at forty yards and had put a bit of bait in throughout the day. He also said he had not been bothered by weed which as I was to soon find out was a key piece of info.

I rode on past him thanking him for all his info. and settled in peg eight almost opposite the old boat house. The weed was once again spreading across from the far side of the lake here but swim selection was governed by where I thought I could cast. Lots of overhanging oaks ruled out most swims.

I set up a feeder rod and a Zander rod.

I kept the casting frequent on the feeder rod but each time was pulling back Canadian pond weed. Same with the deadbait, smothered in weed after being out there for almost an hour. It had now started hammering it down with rain to boot.

I knew I couldn't put up with this weed so moved back up the lake and found the old boys peg free. He said he wasn't being bothered by weed and that was now good enough for a damp me.

Once again I put out the Zander rod and a feeder. The Zander rod didn't move all night.

After about thirty minutes of frequent casting I started getting indications of fish in the swim on the feeder. This soon resulted in a five pound five ounce Bream.

Soon after I had a skimmer about two pounds.

As darkeness descended the tip was constantly on the move. I could see the line pinging off the back of the Bream as the tip sprang back after being slowly drawn forwards.

The bites when they came were trembly but positive with the quiver twitching for a number of seconds indicating a fish had the bait in it's mouth.

I went on to catch two more Bream, both six pounds four ounces. Given I need an eight pounder to improve on my current competition standings these fish are not even on the radar. It was nice to make my peace with Coombe though and to actually extract something from the water. I can see my bike proving very handy as I'm sure I will return for the predator fishing later in the year.


Sunday, 26 July 2009

Ryton Pool Before a Work Party

26th July, Ryton Pool, 06:00 - 09:00. Blustery SE moving to SW, overcast but dry.

Let me deal with the fishing first because I need to blurt it out then move quickly on. After seeing some pretty awesome Carp feeding in the duck area whilst out with the family on Saturday (yesterday) I fished peg one and chucked two method feeders across to roughly the area where I saw them. I was dogged by thick weed and apart from one dropped pick-up didn't have a sniff. I couldn't cast the bait to where I wanted it because of the brambles and trees hard behind me.

My pain was intensified by committee friend Mark Brophy fishing almost exactly the same method from the point, across towards the island, and catching his now regular eight or nine good Tench.

As you might imagine none of the committee guys on the subsequent work party pulled my leg about my fishless situation (NOT!).

In the mood for over-compensation the chainsaw was put to good use and a few pegs on the road bank at Ryton are now easily more fishable than before! Ironically the cutting behind the peg I was fishing this morning meant the chuck to the area I intended was now child's play.

I hope the 'before and after' pictures below tell their own story.

As you might expect the duck feeding area can now be cast to from almost every peg on the lake.


A really Efficient Brandon Blank

23rd July, Brandon Marsh, 20:00 - 22:30. SW breeze dropping later on, broken cloud.

Skipping football to allow my heel to recover I nipped to Brandon for a few hours on Thursday night.

I was very efficient, almost militarily smooth. Gear packed and ready to go in the car as soon as the lights turned green at home and fishing with two rods within thirty minutes of leaving.

Brandon however was not impressed by my logistical skills. Not a touch all night.

I fished the windward bank as this wind has been blowing for a good few days now. I saw some Bream rolling on the back of the wind and a single Tench in my pitch but that was it.

I had a call from Pete reporting an improved Grayling weight and a pound Perch from the 'Wharfe in the North' so the current scores are below.

Time is running out for Brandon, I'm going to have to cut and run for the other summer species soon.


Saturday, 25 July 2009

Roach Forum

Fellow anglers,

If you enjoy Roach fishing, as I know I do - until I've bagged one over 1.5lb!! - then please support this new forum for Roach anglers set up by our brother of the angle Jeff Hat.



p.s I'm off to attempt a long range Tench from Ryton first thing tomorrow so I'll let you know how it goes.....

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Blythe with a 'Y'

21st July, 17:00 - 21:00 river Blythe with Jeff Hatt. Wet, damp, windy.

Having read about Jeff's previous trips to the Blythe I was keen to see the place so we arranged to meet on the bank.

The Blythe around Coleshill is a lovely river and reputedly holds some good fish.

I started on the stick and maggot and caught a couple of small Roach and hooked a Perch about 10ozs which fell off. Looking at my watch and with the 'fishing challenge' with Pete looming over me I decided I didn't have the time for float fishing for small fish and decided to give spinning for monster Perch a go.

In the split second it took to make this decision the heavens opened and I got a drenching whilst switching over the tackle. I had left my brolly at home and elected to wear a waterproof jacket and thigh waders. This was fine apart from the four inch gap between the bottom of my jacket and the top of the waders. Run-off from the jacket went was guided directly down the top of my boots. Rubbish!

I hooked a Perch on a small spinner which fell off and then had a pull from something else which didn't hook up, both in the pouring rain. I tried a few more spots with nothing and once again looked at my watch as something inside was pulling at me and shouting - "try for a Barbel you idiot!". The river was filling quickly from the days rain and so I once again switched angling codes and fixed up a running lead and pellet to try for a Barbel.

I found a likely looking spot just upstream of some willows with a fair push on. I baited the area and settled onto my wet chair in my wet clothes. The river continued to rise quickly.

After forty five minutes I was getting cold so went for a brisk walk to warm up. I returned to my gear and fished on.

Surprisingly despite the fruity looking swim I didn't have a touch other than from Crayfish and increasingly detritus coming down in the current.

We called it a day around nine as I was getting decidedly cool because of the earlier soaking.

Despite the inclement conditions my appetite has been whet by this stretch and hope to return soon. I'm pretty sure it won't be this year though as this challenge is dictating events at the moment. Over a post-Jubilee pint last Friday both Pete and I agreed to do something either less competitive or as a team next year!


Red Light

No fishing to report here but I was out on the lawn after dark catching worms the other night.

Let's just stop for a moment and drink in the picture the above sentence paints.

The missus had gone to bed flatly refusing to assist in my endeavours and moreover exclaiming that I look insane to the neighbours.

On all fours and with new head torch in place I discovered these things;
  1. Red light does not spook worms as much as white light.
  2. A spooked worm retracts into it's hole really quickly.
  3. During the herculean battle to extract worm from hole, use your fingernails for grip and you've lost as the worm will break.
  4. I like worming, it's good fun.

Oh no, it's a Carp!

17th July - Island pool at Jubilee, 08:30 - 20:30. Overcast but warm, blowy and wet at times.

Pete and I had planned to go down to Linear in Oxfordshire for this session to try for a big Bream / Tench / Rudd but a combination of the weather forecast and limited time cajoled us to Jubilee instead. Jubilee is not the poor relation here but we both knew the chances of throwing up a big bream were reduced whilst the chances of catching something were odds on.

I had a successful day after the Bream on the feeder catching twenty seven in all. None were much above four pounds but it was good to catch the target species in numbers.

I fished a simple running rig with cage feeder and various hookbaits on a 12ft 1.5lb Barbel rod with the lightest push-in quivertip it took.

Within about half an hour of casting out I had bubbles in the swim and started to get indications. As the weather was so gloomy the fish fed practically all day with only a short lull mid-afternoon. If I had one criticism of myself it would be not converting all of the activity on the tip into fish. I'm sure a matchman with finer tips and lines would have made more hay, but the sun wasn't shining so I was happy with a bit of labour and to build and catch steadily.

I experimeted with hookbaits and settled on a 10mm halibut boilie cut down to the shape of a pellet on a hair with the strong 12 hook tipped with a red maggot. The reason for the boilie rather than a pellet was two-fold. Firstly the pellets in the groundbait mix had softened overnight and when using a fresh one on the hook it was hard and I thought the fish might tell the difference. So the boilie was softer and also was more convenient staying on for many more casts than a pellet. The maggot was just to add a bit of movement and to partly hide the full hook. The resulting bites were inevitably pull-rounds as the Bream felt the hook and made off, slowly.

One bit of excitement came as I hooked something which felt relatively heavy and ponderous. It didn't put up much of a fight and so I called Pete to tell him I thought I had a good Bream on. He came over and saw colour in the water from behind my peg and certified it as "a Bream" and "massive". It was perversely a disappointment to both of us when the fish came over the net and it turned out to be a common Carp with a bronze Breamy colouring.

I never ever thought I'd say "Oh no it's a Carp!".

Pete's up North this week and has bagged a (puny!) Grayling so our scores are:


Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Well at Least I caught Something!

14th July - Brandon after work. Stiff SW with occasional heavy shower passing over. Warm.

Upon arrival I could see the wind blowing firmly into one corner of the lake, into the swim I fished on the opening night of the season.

With last weeks complete lack of fishy activity whilst fishing on the back of a wind still fresh in my mind I made straight for the windward corner. Actually progress was slow as I'd injured my heel playing football but I limped as fast as my good leg would carry me, spirits high.

Anyone guess how I fished? Altogether now - one rod for Carp and one rod for anything that swam. I opted for a method feeder and small hook bait on the Carp rod in an insane attempt to cover the Bream / Carp species barrier if it turned out to be fish a chuck. Single grain of corn over particles on a stepped-up float outfit on the other rod in the hope of a Tench but with enough ooomph to handle a carp should the incredible happen.

Both the incredible and the insane were safe in their beds as I sat for the first three hours without a touch. Shortly after I had a strange bite on the method rod - the lightweight bobbin jumping up to the rod and dancing around but no line being taken. Overcome at getting even a touch I struck...... into thin air.

I recast and dusk drew in.

At nine o'clock I had another funny bite on the method rod. The bobbin jumped up and danced about lightly. This time I left it. After a few seconds of this, whatever it was obviously gave up trying to shed the hook and bolted. I lifted the rod and felt resistance - that made a pleasant change!

The fish tussled pretty well and stayed low in the water and it wasn't until it was close in that I saw it was an Eel. Thankfully it went into the net and didn't cause too much bother when on the bank. It weighed 2lbs 20z, not the biggest fish in the lake but I needed on for the challenge and I was simply glad to have caught.

Apart from the knocks I've described there was nothing else to see all night.

The scores on the doors are now:


Sunday, 12 July 2009

Glutton for Punishment

Tuesday 7th July - Brandon after work. Main Pool after Carp and Bream, Cooler weather (15C) with rain at times.

Not much to say about this trip other than it followed the frustrating recent trend. I fished one rod for carp and a float rod on a single grain of corn over particles for anything that swam - I haven't caught a single fish from this lake in five attempts now!

I had a two bleep liner on the Carp rod and not a touch on the float.

This place is slowly driving me mad.

The other week when I was here I saw Bream bubbling in this swim, tonight there was nothing. I saw one Tench roll and perhaps three Bream and that was it. Nada. Zip.

Next week - for I will return - I'm not going to even think about where to fish until I arrive on the day and I'm going to apply all the fishy rules I've learned to what I see in front of me. Recently I've been working my way around known swims where I've heard of fish being taken in the past rather than working things up from first principles.

I've decided to devote July to Brandon and if I haven't caught any of my targets by then I will need to move on. I've still a lot more species to try and get to seal this challenge. Thankfully Pete's hit a lean spell too so this at least is buying me time to bang my head against Brandon.


Brandon Braid Disaster X2

Sunday 5th July, Brandon Right Hand Pool - 19:30 - 21:00. Warm and overcast with the odd light shower.

I like braid. I started using it firstly for maggot feeder fishing on the river then stepped up for my Barbel fishing last year. It's lack of stretch offers superior transmission to the tip for all kinds of bites, dinks and donks. It is thin, twenty pound braid is about the same diameter as 5lb mono. This means there is reduced drag on the line from a river current. It is also slick through the rings and so casts well.

To balance the praise I can offer the following negatives. It can cause casting problems if only loosely wound onto a fixed spool reel. When casting the loose braid spills from the spool and quickly forms knots which will pass through the rings on the cast but will weaken the line considerably if not unpicked - a hard job as braid knots are tiny. Secondly, knots which work fine on mono are prone to slipping on braid i.e overhand loop or five turn grinner.

Last Sunday evening I had a couple of hours trying for the Carp at Brandon off the top. As I had braided mainline on my reel I joined it to a 10lb mono hooklength by loop-to-loop and soon painfully discovered a third negative to add to the list.

There were simply loads of Geese and a Swan on the lake so I didn't put any loose bread out at all. I cast a single piece of crust out towards some fish without the feathery armada noticing and within ten minutes had a take. I lifted the rod tip and felt the fish. Still in striking motion and before the rod reached forty five degrees from the perpendicular the line pinged and fell slack.

I'd seen the Carp and it was a decent fish. I wound in to find just the loop on the end of my braid mainline remaining. I think the braid had cheese-wired through the mono. I swore under my breath quite a lot.

Thinking this was just a bit of rum luck I tied on a twelve pound mono hooklength and was soon fishing again. Once again the feathered half-wits did not clock the bread land and within ten more minutes I had another slurping take. I lifted the rod tip and felt the weight of the fish. Still in striking motion and before the rod reached forty five degrees from the perpendicular the line pinged and fell slack. The same thing had happened again! The braid had sheered the mono at the join.

Swearing was no longer a viable option so I put my head in my hands and left it there for a few minutes, teeth tightly clenched. The second Carp was also a decent fish. I've been fishing Brandon quite abit recently and have yet to catch anything decent. To lose two fish in such quick sucession to the same tackle-failure related reason was a heavy blow. I gave myself a stern talking to, went back to the car and got reel with mono mainline.

On my firtst cast with the mono line one of the winged mafia saw the crust hit the surface and set off on full power towards it. Seeing something was going down his thirty odd mates all did the same. My heart sunk further as I looked across the pool and all I could see was wall to wall Goose streaking towards me. Once they'd located my bread my game was up. They just hung around the area for the rest of the evening. I couldn't cast out as they would all pile for the bread and be on it within seconds. Forty pairs of dead-cod eyes glared constantly at me.

I tried walking up the bank and dropping some bread in away from where I was fishing. It worked for a short while but they then associated me with food so soon came gliding back up to where I was sat, squabbling as they swam.

I didn't have any more chances and had well and truly blown the other two.


Saturday, 4 July 2009

Lovely Lavender

2nd June, Lavender Hall 13:00 - 15:00. Red hot, light SW.

After packing up this morning from yesterdays night session at Brandon I returned home a bit knackered and grumpy.

I unloaded my gear and put everything back in it's place. I picked out and re-loaded the car with a simple stalking outfit. I showered, went back outside and promptly started perspiring again - Air con!

I had an airport run to do for the family to Birmingham International. Once complete I intended to use the next few hours trying to get a twenty pounder from Lavender Hall in Berkswell before returning home in time for family responsibilities after school.

Station Pool at Lavender was pretty quiet and I could see Carp on the top before I had even switched the engine off. How different this commercial fishery is to Brandon.

I set up my centrepin with 8lb line straight through on a 13ft specimen float rod. Terminal tackle was a size 6 Drennan Star point tied on with a six turn grinner and that was that. Bait for the session was a loaf of bread.

Taking position behind some bankside undergrowth I could see the Carp were wary. Those that had seen me arrive in position either sunk away or spooked off at high speed. If you've never seen a six foot three bloke hiding behind a tuft of Iris or Marram grass then I think it is a sight to behold. If it weren't for the grunts and groans I give off when trying to get up or when one of my legs goes to sleep you wouldn't know I was there!

I moved along the bank a bit and approached the next group of fish with all the stealth I could muster. It worked and the fish remained in place in the scum line on the windward bank. That is half the battle won. I hooked a piece of crust and lowered it onto the water, out of sight of the fish. I then very slowly drew it back to within three inches of where a Carp was sunbathing. After a few seconds the fishes gill covers started moving and it sniffed the surface film. With the slightest of effort it moved the few inches towards the crust and supped it down with confidence. I lifted the rod tip and all hell broke loose as it often does when you hook a carp at very close range. After an enjoyable scrap on the centrepin the fish was landed and weighed - 15lbs 6oz mirror.

I did a reccy lap of the pool, tried some bread on the bottom which was hammered by small fish and then returned to the windward scummy section. I had a scraper double common followed in quick succession by a mirror of 18lbs 4oz. I hid behind some Thistles for this one.

I went on to take three more fish, a nice common weighing 13lb+ and two more chunky mirrors.

I was glad to leave at three as I don't think I could have taken any more sun!


A Tropical Night at Brandon

1st July, 17:00 - 09:00. Boiling hot, light SW breeze fading to a breathless night.

Having tried to spend as much time as possible this last week under the influence of air conditioning, I knew this night session was going to be a grueller.

Daunted by having to lug overnight gear to the peg and set up camp in the heat I stripped my gear down to the bare essentials when I packed it the previous night. I'd showered after work but by the time I'd finished in the garage I needed another one.

In hindsight I think I could have got away without a shelter or a cover for my bed as it was so close, but the humidity carried the constant threat of a storm so I took both in case of a downpour.
I fished with two rods, one targeting Bream and one Carp. I used simple running lead set ups on both rods as I'm still not confident I have the balance of my bolt rigs right - I worry is the lead too light or the hook is too small etc. It's a simple case of confidence really and when I'm fishing a water like Brandon I want to stick with what I know works. Furthermore, running set ups and light bobbins will show up all manner of line bites and aborted pick ups where bolt rigs might not.

The surface of the lake was typically fish free, apart from myriads of fry and the odd splash of a Perch chasing them. I saw a group of bubbles from feeding fish nearby which I think were Bream given the tightness of the shoal and the size of the bubbles. I set up a float rod with simple lift float method and cast a piece of flake into the middle of them. The fish continued to bubble sporadically but I didn't have a touch.

Darkness descended and I had yet to see a sign of a Carp on the surface. Interestingly it wasn't until well after dark, about eleven , that I started to get indications of fish moving across the line on both rods. I hooked and inexplicably lost a bream on the left hand rod just after midnight and apart from intermittent solitary bleeps, just spread out enough to keep me awake, this was my only contact.

I rose around seven a.m. feeling totally spaced out from lack of sleep and disappointed once again to have not caught. I don't take blanking lying down though and weighed up my options and decided to play to my strengths; if they won't come to me I'll go to them.

Stalking Carp is my favourite method of catching them and after years of practice I rate myself as competent. My motto is, "If I can see them I can catch them". I freely admit both the statement itself and the utterer would not stand up well under hard questioning but I like it.

Armed with my most complex stalking rig: a rod, reel and line with hook on the end I made off chasing an opportunity. Despite being back in my fishing comfort zone there wasn't a chance to be had on the main lake. Even the shallows on the right hand pool were looking quiet. It was early and the scum which yesterday was corralled into the shallows by the wind had spread out overnight. The air was just starting to move and I could see it being slowly pushed back into it's place at one end of the pool.

I cast a piece of floating crust as far out as I could. A swan saw it land and and was full steam ahead towards it. As a diversionary tactic I put some bread in at my feet. It worked and he came and fed at my feet all the time my bait was in the water.

I soon had a fish at my bait and the line was pulled through the scum, making tiny arrow-headed ripples as the fish sunk away. I struck, fought and landed a nice looking Carp, not big, perhaps 6lbs. One of the newer stock fish put into the pool about four years ago.
I did another patrol of likely looking spots after this fish but no other opportunities arose. I packed up my gear in the heat of the morning and retreated.